Although it appears that the Obama administration is cracking down on medical marijuana, a number of the drug's health benefits have become increasingly indisputable. One Israeli company hopes that it can create a middle ground: Tikun Olam has successfully created a strain of weed called Avidekel that provides many of the helpful medicinal effects of cannabis minus one notable differentiator — it doesn't get you high. "Whyyyyyyyyy?" asks Victoria Kekiepmis at the Village Voice. Here, a brief guide to the weed world's version of O'Douls:
Why invent such a thing?
Sometimes getting high is an "unwanted side effect," says Zack Klein, head of development at Tikun Olam, the company that developed the plant. Marijuana contains a number of proven health benefits thanks to more than 60 kinds of cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), a substance that possesses anti-inflammatory properties. In Israel, where marijuana is illegal except for medicinal use, more than 9,000 people use the drug to treat illnesses like cancer, Parkinson's, Crohn's disease, PTSD, and more. But cannabis' most infamous cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), also gets you stoned, which is less than desirable when you need to focus in any way.
How did they develop Avidekel?
Certain cannabis strains around the world have higher levels of CBD than THC. Beginning in 2009, Israeli researchers began breeding the plants to develop a product that did away with the THC. About six months ago, they debuted their first variety, Avidekel, which contains a potent 15.8 percent CBD, giving it strong anti-inflammatory properties.
What does it taste like?
Avidekel "looks the same, smells the same, and tastes the same," says Max Eddy at Geekosystem, but it won't get you high. "It's a huge advantage," says one 35-year-old patient who recently had a painful tumor removed from her spine. "I can smoke during the day, function with a lot less pain and still be focused, work, and drive. It's a great gift."
Does this mean normal marijuana is on its way out?
"Don't worry," says Klein. Clinical trials testing Avidekel's efficacy aren't even set to begin for a few more months. Not to mention that THC is known to help alleviate symptoms that this new high-free strain can't. Cannabis as we know it isn't going anywhere.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- The lessons of Japan's latest recession
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- How to stop Black Thursday — and still score that big screen
Subscribe to the Week